MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – The Morris County Board of Freeholders announced they will launch at-home and mobile COVID-19 testing programs for Morris County residents and workers within the next week, as the number of new cases in the county continues to increase in correlation with a spike in the virus statewide.
“Our task force saw weeks ago that our cases were starting to increase, and we asked our Department of Law and Public Safety to begin preparing a plan for new testing in the event a second wave of the pandemic. It appears we are there,” said Freeholder Director Deborah Smith, referring to the Morris County COVID-19 Recovery Task Force formed to develop strategies to assist businesses and communities overcome pandemic impacts.
The purpose of the expanded testing is to:
- Identify Asymptomatic Individuals
- Increase Test Availability for Symptomatic Individuals
- Detect Clusters or Outbreaks
- Provide Trending Data for Proactive Measures
“The at-home testing will be the first phase, but Morris County is not ready to go live with it,” officials said.
The testing will involve going to the Morris County website and accessing a portal, but the county still is in the process of developing the on-line portal. Please do not call the county or your municipal officials at this point. Once the portal is active, announcements will be made and further information will be shared with the public, media and municipal officials.
“Once the at home testing is up and running we will begin mobile testing. Our hope is within the next week or two we will have everything ready. The goal is that there will be no out-of-pocket costs to Morris County residents for this testing,” said Scott DiGiralomo, Director of Morris County’s Department of Law and Public Safety, who briefed municipal leaders in a phone conference yesterday.
“The costs will be covered by individual insurance plans, federal aid and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding we were able to secure in August,” said Freeholder Douglas Cabana, the board liaison to Law and Public Safety. “The federal money we received will reimburse Morris County for the response efforts we launched with our own funding at the start of the pandemic, including the drive-through testing station we set up at the County College of Morris. The remaining dollars should help us continue testing through the year.”
The drive-through testing facility will not be reactivated at this time.
The on-line portal for at-home testing will enable individuals to determine whether to order a nasal or a saliva test, and then begin the process of scheduling at-home delivery of testing kits. Individuals will be required to provide their insurance information, Medicare or Medicaid data, or indicate that they are uninsured. However, no one will be billed for accessing the tests.
The nasal swab, which is restricted to individuals who are age 18 and older, is one already available to the public through LabCorp, and it is known as their Pixel test. It will be shipped overnight to individuals, who will be asked to follow directions on how to take a sample and return-mail it in a prepaid package. Results generally are available within 48 hours of receipt by the testing company.
The other test, provided by Vault Health, is a saliva test developed by Rutgers University. It too will be shipped to an individual’s home overnight. There is no age restriction, but guardians and parents must obtain the sample while participating in a tele-visit by computer or phone with an advisor at Vault. The advisor will guide participants on how to conduct the test and return it through the mail.
At this time, participants are only allowed two (2) tests per month. Anyone who tests positive will be directed to contact his or her healthcare provider and will receive a call from a contact tracer.
Morris County will deploy mobile testing units in cooperation with local health authorities, particularly in areas where outbreaks are being detected or suspected. Vulnerable populations, including people without healthcare, in Dover and Morristown will be among the first targeted for testing in cooperation with Zufall Health Center.